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What Publishers Should Know About Advertisers

6:49 pm on Jun 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I am usually not lecturing others but I have the feeling that this Adsense forum sometimes is too much in an anti-advertiser mood. I see so many threads complaining about bad quality advertisers, low paying advertisers and advertisers not selling a real product. As many others in this forum I am both an advertiser and a publisher. I strongly support the idea that publishers, advertisers and Google form a unity, they all need each other to make a profit. Therefore I wish to put some complaints about advertisers in another perspective.

Publishers complaint 1: Some advertisers have poorly written low quality ads. I will block their ads.
Advertisers point of view: That is correct. There are thousands of Adwords advertisers, some of them indeed provide poorly written ad-copy.
All the same some publishers have poorly written bad quality content. If needed we block them too. But that's not the real solution. The real solution is that Google will continue their ongoing effort to improve the quality of both advertisers ads and publishers content.

Publishers complaint 2: Some advertisers pay only 3 cents per click. I wish I could block them.
Advertisers point of view: If you really want that you should do that. But remember advertisers don't bid low just to annoy publishers. Sometimes they just don't have a choice. If you are selling $3,- widgets, you need to find very cheap ways to promote them. Otherwise you will not make money. This really works both ways. If you are a publisher and you have a website about $3,- widgets, perhaps you should think twice before anticipating on large advertising revenues.

Publishers complaint 3: Advertisers only want their clicks as cheap as possible.
Advertisers point of view: Advertisers do not want their clicks as cheap as possible, they want their return of investment to be as high as possible. If I have to invest $100, what do you think I will do; will I get 10.000 clicks of $ 0.01 each, or 100 clicks of $ 1.00 each? The answer is simple; whatever makes me the most money. If 100 clicks of $1.00 makes me more money, you will get your expensive clicks! And sometimes, your wonderful content is just what makes the difference for the advertisers sales!

Publishers complaint 4: Some ads just have a very low CTR. Advertisers should write better ad-copy.
Advertisers point of view: That could be the case. Perhaps there is also a chance for publishers to improve their content in order to get higher CTR. Most of my ads are targeted at selling a product. Is your content aiming to sell my products? If not, there is part of your explanation. If publishers wish to improve their CTR, perhaps they should consider to re-write their content in order to pre-sell the advertisers products.

Publishers Complaint 5: Some advertisers do not sell a real product. Their clicks can't be worth much. I will block their ads.
Advertisers point of view: Some of my campaigns indeed do not sell real products, but I offer good money for my clicks. In some case I wish to establish a position in my market by running a large scale campaign, bringing many visitors to niche content pages. It is in fact my strategy to sell these initial visitors nothing yet. As soon as I have established trust and these visitors start coming back, I start selling them stuff. In some cases it is just worth to invest for a while in a campaign that doesn't sell any products yet. If I am in a competitive market, my clicks won't be cheap and you miss them cause you blocked me. In other cases, I get paid if people sign up, for example for a newsletter. In some cases the commission I get for a signup is very high. Since these high-paying markets are mostly very competitive, my clicks are very expensive. But if you block me because I don't sell a real product, you don't get these clicks.

4:53 pm on June 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Also, MFA sites aren't the only advertisers buying 3-cent clicks.

I'd agree, those are totally different issues.

Attempting to keep visitors around by any method other than having additional great content on the outside chance they are interested in the topic, is pretty pointless. In the vast majority of cases people show up to a page from the search engine, then if you are lucky they will click one or two links before going back.

And for some subjects 3 cents is really not all that bad. I write abbout what I want to write about.

On my personal website it is not uncommon to have subjects that have ads that pay a pittance, and I have nothing else on my site that would be of interest to the reader. Some of the recipes are a great example of this, If you are searching for a specific recipe for a type of cookie and you don't like my reccipe, you are a lot more likely to follow a low paying ad for more cookie recipes than to read my recipe for kung pao chicken or my rant about the development going in to the south of here. So if I get 3 cents when you leave, that is a lot more than I am likely to get otherwise.

5:47 pm on June 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Nice contrast of advertiser and publisher POV humblebeginnings.

In the subsequent posts I read much publisher concern over advertiser quality (ad copy/relevance) and quantity (click value) and issues of control (blocking).

'Control' becomes largely moot once a site passes n-thousand pages. Time spent attempting controlling click value on a tens of thousand page site or tens of thousand page sites is very poor ROI. If you want to increase ad revenue better to add targeted copy, increase page numbers, to hold more and varied ads. Volume and variety do much more towards raising revenue and smoothing cash flow than micro-managing the ads displayed.

Take the time upfront to narrowly specifically target each page and constrain inappropriate definitions and you have done most that is necessary to maximise ROI across your network.

Target as many of your niches likely advertisers as possible: high click values and low. By all means, target potential high values first but as the site builds remember that the 5-and-10-cent stores (modern version Walmart) created a lot more m/b-illionaires than their more snooty competitors.

And remember as publishers we are the messenger not the message nor the sender or recipient. Fortunately we do control what we carry, how we carry, and how we present; ultimately that differentiates the ROI of each publisher.

6:23 pm on June 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

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So if I get 3 cents when you leave, that is a lot more than I am likely to get otherwise.

That must be pretty limiting in terms of revenue. We have other options. Some website owners don't.

I can't control the prices we get for adsense clicks, but I can make pretty good guesses about some low cost advertisers, and filter them.

When ppc for a family of keywords goes from 1 cent to $15.00, you can bet your butt that we're going to filter out sites that give us a penny or so AND have no content on them.

Your traffic may be of low value, but our traffic is of high value to us. Losing a visitor for pennies doesn't make sense for us.

9:01 pm on June 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

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In short, as a rational publisher, I will block whatever advertisers that fools my users. It is that simple and all I need to know about the advertisers - who feeds misleading ads will go into my blocking list.... :P

I would agree with you on this, completely. I view this as akin to the following analogy:

Let's say you have a site circa 2000-2001 (i.e.: the "CPM" days). Thousands of happy users - who like your site a lot, and dilligently return daily, tell their friends, etc. An advertiser approaches you via email about buying placement in one of your banners for a month. The advertiser states the following ...

"Yes, we offer a free rewards site, where we give away high-value electronics devices such as MP3 players and digital cameras just for users signing up their email address and meeting a few small terms and conditions. Of course, the terms and conditions are so convoluted and complex that no-one could ever possibly meet all of them ... although once we have their email address our valued business partners will deluge their inboxes with over 400 spams per week.

So, how does $2.00 per 1,000 impressions sound to you? We can upload our banner in the next hour and get started..."

If I was running a site with purely CPM ads, you can bet I'd tell that advertiser what he could do with his $2 ... and it would involve several four-letter words. I would hazard a guess that almost everyone else here would as well.

Yet somehow, when it comes to the subject of blocking that same advertiser in a CPC model - suddenly people feel quite differently (i.e. "I'll take those $0.05 clicks at 20%CTR all day long!"), and I haven't been able to figure out why.

9:07 pm on June 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Assumption here is that the low paying clicks are of this type? There are lots of legit advertisers that in any marketplace will be the bottom of the barrel in pricing.

This direct correlation between low value clicks and low value sites is what I find interesting here. Chasing away crappy advertisers versus chasing the almighty golden click is what I fingd amusing:)

11:16 pm on June 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I have the strange feeling that we are not being paid by the value of the click but by our value as publishers.
Of course, I have no proof to backup this theory, except for my own experience.

Just for the records, I'm in the 1.5 - 2k per month level, and, no matter what I try I can't raise my average 10-15 cents cpc. I even took away my adsense from all other sites I own (which were producing near zero).
So, I guess that smartpricing doesn't affect the percentage we are paid for a click, instead, it seems to limit what we can be paid per click, no matter the price of the bid. I'm not talking about a fixed value, but some kind of maximun click value.

Adsense is not Adwords. What I mean is that in Google SERPS the ads are triggered by the search keyword, so the bid auction is straightforward to calculate for Google. Adsense, instead, is contextual and the ads are not triggered by keywords but by a complex analysis of the page and website theme and the target of all ads in the database among lots of other factors (at least the Adsense patent says so). So, it is my guess again that the price of the click is calculated using other factors appart from the bid, such as: Ad location, publisher value, spammy flags, CTR threshold (too high: spam flag, too low: low value publisher flag), etc.

I don't know, perhaps I'm talking nonsense, but I don't think that the ads shown by adsense in our sites have the same ranking and click value treatment as the ones that show on Google SERPS.

Besides, many high bids adwords advertisers are opting out from adsense so income is logically degrading.


1:59 am on June 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I learned a different (less general) lesson when I became an advertiser - CTR matters.

Targeting sites, rather than keywords, through Adwords can work. But because this is a CPM model, it only works on sites that position their adblocks well. So as an advertiser I initially select sites based on quality/relevance of the content and equally importantly on ad visibility.

As a publisher, I am sometimes happy to put a second Adsense blocks below the fold to pick up straggling clicks - but this hurts the chances of pulling a CPM advertiser because their adviews can go up without a lot of clicks. Doing this means that I excluding bidders on my ad space.

5:27 am on June 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Excellent post, humble. My only quarrel is my usual one -- it is not the publisher's job to say nice things about advertisers and their products. We bring readers to our page by writing relevant, truthful, stirring copy. There's a difference.
4:46 pm on June 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I don't mind the 3 cent clicks, nor even the 1 cent clicks. I get enough traffic that they add up nicely, and I also have some much higher paying ads showing up on internal pages; it's all good.

What I don't like are scam ads, like for "free" ringtones where it's really a contract, or surveys that scrape email addresses for scamming, or ads for directories that just provide more ads going to directories of more ads and so forth.

Since my site is pretty well specific to Michigan, I also filter out time stamped ads for events occuring in far away places (or that have already taken place and the advertiser obviously forgot to pull the ad) Yea, I might miss a click or two, but it's unlikely and usually not relevant at all to what I'm doing.

I firmly believe that the ads that I allow to run on my site DO reflect back on me, and that's why I keep a pretty hefty filter list going at all times.

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